Skip to main content

tv   The Cycle  MSNBC  September 6, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

12:00 pm
support on possible military strikes is going as well as his attempts to gain support in congress where a vote to approve the use of force is lookingless and less likely in the house. in a last-ditch effort, he'll make his case to the american public in a speech on tuesday, the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and one year after the benghazi attack that killed our u.s. ambassador and three other americans. meantime, the state department is issuing travel warnings for u.s. citizens in iraq, turkey, and lebanon. washington's also pulling nonessential staff out of the embassy in beirut. the precautions come as iran vows retaliation if the u.s. strikes syria. we start with nbc's ayman mohyeldin in beirut. ayman, there are fears iran-backed hezbollah could strike targets where you are. what's the latest? >> reporter: well, hezbollah has been holding the cards very close to their chest. it's an organization that does not come out and really say
12:01 pm
publicly what it intends on doing, but in recent weeks, some of the comments that have come out from the organization's most senior leader have indicated that the organization is willing to defend the syrian regime by any means necessary. now, that has not been explicitly clarified. by many analysts and experts assessments, it could include the possibility of hezbollah fighting on behalf of the syrian regime, either in syria or attacking syria's enemies like israel in the region. obviously, that has great ramifications and concerns for officials here because they would certainly consider that dragging lebanon into a regional confrontation that the president here and other officials have warned this country cannot handle if a humanitarian perspective nor from a security one either. >> ayman mohyeldin in beirut. stay safe. back here in the states, i want it bring in middle east expert ken pollack. he's a senior fellow at the
12:02 pm
brookings institution center for middle east policy. his new book "unthinkable iran: the bomb and american strategy" com comes out on tuesday. ken, ayman was talking about the impact of a strike on syria on iran. you write extensively about the country and to what ayman was saying in his report. >> well, i think that obviously -- look, we've got to recognize there is the potential for some form of retaliation. by the same token, when you look at the main actors who would want to retaliate, iran, syria itself, hezbollah, each of them has a whole lot of other things on their plate. neither of them is looking to pick a fight with the united states now. all of them have a habit of making threats that they don't follow through on. so this could all be bluster, just meant to deter the united states from a strike. it would be absolutely foolish for the united states to assume they won't. >> ken, help us understand what the end game might look like in
12:03 pm
syria. let's get beyond the strikes themselves because obviously iran and others will have to be part of this. is it conceivable for iran and the united states to come together to sit down and construct a road map for syria? >> oh, that's a great question, abby. i think it's the right kind of question to be asking right now. it's part of my concern about what we're doing right now. i think it's going to be very difficult for the united states to sit down with the iranians and figure out what an acceptable solution in syria is. it may be necessary at some point, but it's probably going to change the facts on the ground. right now both sides are very far apart. both sides have enough facts in their favor to say, well, we don't have to make any accommodations. beyond that, let's also remember that the syrians themselves get a say in this. i'm not sure that any of the syrians want the u.s. and the iranians deciding what their fate is. given that neither the united
12:04 pm
states or iranians are fully committed to syria, our ability to dictate a solution to syria, very limited. >> you were a big advocate of invading iraq. obviously, some of the failure there is have had a big impact on the public, political, and congressional conscience as we approach this, although it is a distinct type of challenge. in one of your recent articles, you write basically that the u.s. should either do nothing or pursue an intervention here that is far more decisive than limited strikes. for your analysis, does iraq lead you partly to that conclusion? >> absolutely. we saw the iraq civil war unfold before us. what we, i think, hopefully learned from that is limited issues, half measures have very little impact on a civil war like iraq. syria's is very much like the iraqi civil war. it goes back to abby's question before hand. my great concern is with what we're doing, which is trying to believe that we can mount a kind of surgical military strike, compartmentalized from the
12:05 pm
larger syrian civil war. that's possible, but it stirike me as unlikely. i think it's a mistake to go into this assuming whatever we do is not going to have ramifications and draw us in further. there's a high likelihood that whether we strike or not strike, assad will use the chemicals again. might be a little further into the future if we do strike. if we have struck, what do we do under those circumstances? we're going to have to do something much bigger. so i think we need to think those things through now and decide, do we want to be involved in the syrian civil war or not? i'd make this decision based on that decision. >> well, i tendn to agree with you that we would be better off if we're going to act, having a larger strike. we've seen reports that the president has asked for a larger set of targets within syria, but i'm wondering, with regards to a limited strike, isn't the idea here that we would be sending a message that when we say there
12:06 pm
are consequences, there really are consequences. so that an actor like iran, when we're talking to them, when we're sedding red lines with them, they're looking at that limited strike, even if it doesn't have an impact in syria and saying, okay, they'll actually follow through when they say they will. isn't that the real rationale for the limited strike here? >> boy, i hope it isn't, krystal. i know that is an argument that a number of people are making. that makes me nervous for a couple reasons. first, just having written an entire book, and this is now my third book on iran, you know, the one thing we find about the iranians time and time again, they do not think the way we do. they do not see the world that we do. constantly we're trying to signal something to then. the iranians see it in a completely different light. this idea that what we're doing in -- >> how do you think they would see it then? >> i don't know. what i know for a fact is the iranians think they are far more important and far more powerful than syria is. so they could easily dismiss a strike by saying, well, sure the
12:07 pm
americans are willing to strike the syrians, they're nothing, but they'd never do the same thing to us. >> if we failed to strike, wouldn't they definitely draw the lesson that if they're so much more powerful than syria, if we're not even willing to strike syria, surely when we're talking to them our word doesn't mean anything. >> possibly, but they could also interpret is the exact opposite way. they could say, the americans don't care about syria, it's not really that important. us, they care about. we're important. we matter in this world. and the israelis care more about us. again, there are any number of ways to play these things. when you look at the history is the iranians interpret things in ways we never would have expected, never would have intended. we got to be careful. my feeling has always been going to war with one country to oppress another country rarely works out. >> ken, take us into the head of the new iranian president. there's a lot of curiosity out there. is he going to be a true reformer, or is he going to be the same old, same old?
12:08 pm
early gestures suggest he might be willing to work with the united states. is this just fiction, or do you think there might be something more real? >> look, first, we always have to start by saying you never know what is in another man's head. we've got to be cautious. that said, i think the evidence that we have of rouhani, watching him over several decades, is this guy is very pragmatic. he does seem to want to change the iranian political situation, and he certainly seems to want to change iran's diplomatic situation. i think that there's real reason to believe that he would like to strike a deal with the u.s., would like a new relationship with the u.s. the key question, of course, is does he actually have ayatollah's ear? can he make any deal stick? that's what none of us knows. >> ken, a lot of folks have said the arab spring actually started in iran in 2009 with the green revolution or the green movement. is that opposition movement still alive in any way in iran?
12:09 pm
>> yeah, it's a great point. the answer, i think, is a yes and a no. i think you're right. i think the arab spring did begin in 2009 in tehran. that was born of the same set of grievances you saw all across the arab world as well. the iranian government has done such an unbelievably thorough job of repressing those people. they jail anyone with any kind of credibility, any kind of a sense that they want to move against the regime. so it's leaderless. that said, it is clear in rouhani's victory that the iranian people want change. what rouhani is arguing for is ultimately what the green movement stood for as well. so i think there's no question there's a very large segment of the iranian populous that still wants what the green movement stood for. the problem is, they don't really have the leaders they once did. >> well, in the most recent nbc news poll regarding syria, 45% of americans don't know enough to form their own opinion. i'm sure, ken, the same can be said about iran.
12:10 pm
that just leads to misconceptions. help us understand the realities. how far away are we from a nuclear iran, and what are their goals, as you understand them? >> this, of course, is part of the problem. i spend some time in the book trying to unpack this for people. the problem with the iranians is, of course, they're a very badly fragmented political system. there are all kinds of iranian politicians and political figures and military figures who have very different ideas about their nuclear program. that's why you often see the iranians doing things that don't make a lot of sense, because they're fighting amongst themselves. i think it's clear they want this nuclear program as a matter of pride, as a matter of prestige. i think at some level the supreme leader wants some kind of nuclear capacity as a deterrent. this is a guy who's deeply suspicious of the united states. he thinks that we are constantly trying to unseat him, overthrow his government. he seems to believe this nuclear capacity will help him stay in power, help to keep his regime in power. beyond that, you know, you get
12:11 pm
other people saying, we don't need anything more than that. you get other people saying, no, we want nuclear weapons because we want to spread the iranian revolution. we want to take over the islamic world, or at least dominate it. of course, one is much more dangerous than the other. the real key is going to be finding out in these negotiations what the iranians are actually willing to live with and whether it's something we're willing to live with. >> speaking of dangerous, we've just gotten word that the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, samantha powers, just said that assad has barely made a dent in his chemical weapons stockpile. that's a rather ominous statement, isn't it? >> yeah, although it's also a very true statement, as i think any of us outside of syria understand it. the syrians always had a very extensive stockpile of all kind of different chemical precursors which you can combine to make the chemical agents. they have all kinds of delivery systems. i think that's a very true statement. it goes back to the point i made
12:12 pm
before hand, which is i think we have to expect that at some point in time, regardless of what we do, the assad regime is going to use chemical warfare again. if we strike them, i suspect they'll cool it for a while. if the regime starts to collapse, if it's a choice for assad between using chemicals and perhaps provoking the wrath of the americans again or going down the tubes, i don't think that's a choice for him. i think he uses the chemicals. and therefore, anything we've done this time is going to have to be measured against the prospect of what we would have to do under those circumstances. >> wow. quite a frightening prospect. kenneth pollack, thanks for being here. >> my pleasure. up next, the president's big ask from congress. what happens if they say no? ♪
12:13 pm
♪ [ male announcer ] some things are designed to draw crowds. ♪ ♪ others are designed to leave them behind. ♪ the all-new 2014 lexus is. it's your move.
12:14 pm
the all-new 2014 lexus is. like this samsung 60" led. savings event is here! on rollback: you save over 150 bucks. and this vizio 60" smart led. on rollback: you save 100 bucks! get more for your money at walmart's super savings event.
12:15 pm
12:16 pm
you know, brianna, i think it would be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate because right now i'm working to get as much support as possible out of congress. >> from the tone of the president and based on the latest reports, it's looking less and less likely that military action in syria will get a vote of support from both houses of congress. nbc's kelly o'donnell is on capitol hill with the latest news about a potential vote count. kelly, is it fair to say that things are not looking so hot for the president? >> well, if you think about the mood of the moment, it seems there is more opposition. there are certainly lots of voices coming from around the country where people are hearing
12:17 pm
from their constituents who say they're opposed. that weighs heavily on members of congress. i think it's too early to tell in this sense. there will be some really critical moments here between now and when a vote is cast sometime next week for the president and his allies to try to make the case again. so many members of congress i've talked to have wanted the president to address the nation. we know he'll do that tuesday night. he'll be able to lay out the case, make all of the connections as to why he thinks a limited strike would be in the u.s.'s interest. that could be persuasive. if not, it certainly presents a huge challenge for the president. there are some members who are already firmly in the camp saying they would support a strike. quite a number are saying no, but there's a really big number who are undecided. and when i talk to them and their aides, what you hear is they need time to process the information that they're getting through classified briefings, hearing from their constituents,
12:18 pm
and sort of seeing where the world is. many people had hoped there would be more international support. so you have to measure these things kind of in snapshots. right now it is looking like there is more opposition, but there is time for there to be some sort of change if the president and his allies can be persuasive enough. >> definitely an unsettling time for the obama administration, kelly o'donnell on capitol hill. thanks so much. >> good to see you. >> technically the president doesn't need congressional approval to take military action. let's bring in the presidential historian for nbc news. michael, looking back, whether it be the 1983 invasion of grenada, the bombing of libya in '86, or troops sent to somalia, we have a history of using military force without congressional approval. in fact, we've done it 125 times. but there is a precedent for action even after congress says no, isn't there? >> yeah, there sure is. 1999, something most americans probably don't even remember very well, but that is that bill
12:19 pm
clinton went to congress, both houses, and said, there are human rights atrocities going on in central europe, i want the united states to be part of a nato force to bomb kosovo to end these and hopefully get a peace treaty from the serbs. senate said yes, house said no. it was a couple months after he had been impeached. so that was the atmosphere. he went ahead anyway, got some financing from congress. 78 days resulted in a peace treaty, was successful. he did get that done. in retrospect, because that was a success and he did go to congress, my guess is that if the president does decide to do this after a defeat in congress, he and his people may be looking to the kosovo precedent. >> well, a lot of parallels have been drawn to kosovo and that intervention in yugoslavia in 1999. gallup did some polling showing the level of support for action in syria stands only at 36%.
12:20 pm
that's the lowest in favor of any recent intervention that we've done. although, as you were mentioning yugoslavia, the next lowest was 43% in yugoslavia. take us back to that time a little bit. what was the public support like before intervention and how did it change after we actually got involved? >> well, it changed when it began to seem successful and then in the end, of course, a lot of people in congress who probably opposed it probably were saying it was their idea to begin with. success and history has an awful lot to do with looking very well on presidential actions and military affairs. for instance, lyndon johnson in 1964, a very different kind of action, but there was an alleged strike on an american ship. johnson got this big resolution from congress. about ten days it later found that it actually wasn't a strike. it was bad intelligence. didn't call back the resolution. so went ahead on this. nonetheless, you know, if johnson had been able to win the vietnam war, let's say, within
12:21 pm
about a year, we would probably be willing to excuse all that and say, maybe it was necessary. the fact that the war was a disaster makes us look differently. >> michael, the idea of asking congress for -- or asking for congressional permission, bad idea or did it buy the president some time to make the case here at home and abroad? >> well, i think it did buy him time, but you cannot explain this in terms of political self-interest. there was no way this was going to be easy. it seems today as if that's more evident than it even was a week ago. but this is a man, the president, who was a teacher of constitutional law at the university of chicago for a decade. it's something he's talked a lot about. he has said many times, not only in terms of iraq, but congress should be brought in. go back to 1787, the time the constitution was written. the founders felt extremely strongly that the act of going to war should be decided not by
12:22 pm
a president, but by congress. >> yeah, and you think about the korean war, which had tremendous consequences for our country and the world, and obviously while you had u.n. security council authorization, which is an international law component, truman did not get congressional authorization. it was not that decision, though, that earned him the most legal problems. it was his attempt to seize the steel mills in the youngstown case where the supreme court ultimately intervened and said, maybe you can go to war, maybe you can use that ultimate power, but here at home you can't necessarily seize the steel mills without explicit congressional approval. what do you think those kind of historical lessons teach us about where the rubber actually hits the road? we know the court doesn't intervene a great deal once we have troops out there. >> well, i think that's exactly right. what any president knows is that one's troo once troops are engaged, it's going to be hard for congress to say we're going to cut the
12:23 pm
funding and you have to call back people who are in harm's way. that's sort of what happened with bill clinton in kosovo. that bombing was going on. it essentially fell to congress. are you going to finance this or not? are you going to make a decision that these people have to come home? they did not make that decision. >> what president does this one remind you of when you look at his willingness to overrule some of the advice and military counsel he's gotten on this issue? we know many people in the military in the senior ranks have told this president and previous president, hey, because you don't have to go to congress, easier for us if you don't. >> yeah, and they'll always give that kind of advice because the purpose of a political adviser is to advise a president on the way of getting through something like this with the least amount of trouble. no one would have wanted to go through what he's going through right now. but look at it the other way. you know, let's say he had not gone to congress and begun these strikes. you have a house of
12:24 pm
representatives that's in opposition hands. a lot of people who are very angry at barack obama, don't want anything to do with almost anything that he blesses. it's entirely possible that political situation could have been worse. >> well, michael, if history has taught us anything, how do you expect president obama to move forward if, in fact, congress does not -- if they, in fact, vote against taking action in syria? >> i think only he knows at this moment, but you know, the tea leaves would tend to suggest that he sees a way that he can do this. you know, we all heard that press conference this morning. he's not ruling it out. i think if he had ruled it out, he probably would find that only in his interest to tell congress right now because it might help him to get that resolution passed. >> i think you're exactly right. michael, thank you so much. >> pleasure. >> here's a little nugget about syria that went under the radar this weekend. defense secretary chuck hagel puts the cost of military action at tens of millions of dollars.
12:25 pm
on the day we received another dismal jobs report, millions of out of work americans are wondering if that money could be better spent. ♪ turn around ♪ every now and then i get a little bit hungry ♪ ♪ and there's nothing good around ♪ ♪ turn around barry ♪ i finally found the right snack ♪ ♪ hair color was as important as your cut. now a breakthrough from vidal sassoon helps stop water from fading away the vibrant color you wish would stay. waterproof it! the vidal sassoon hair color collection has an exclusive hydrablock system that helps lock in our color for as long as salon color... up to 48 washes! prove it to yourself. vidal sassoon waterproof color. salon genius. affordable for all. constipated? yeah. mm. some laxatives like dulcolax can cause cramps.
12:26 pm
but phillips' caplets don't. they have magnesium. for effective relief of occasional constipation. thanks. [ phillips' lady ] live the regular life. phillips'. okay, who helps you focus on your recovery? yo, yo, yo. aflac. wow. [ under his breath ] that was horrible. pays you cash when you're sick or hurt? [ japanese accent ] aflac. love it. [ under his breath ] hate it. helps you focus on getting back to normal? [ as a southern belle ] aflac. [ as a cowboy ] aflac. [ sassily ] aflac. uh huh.
12:27 pm
[ under his breath ] i am so fired. you're on in 5, duck. [ male announcer ] when you're sick or hurt, aflac pays you cash. find out more at aflac.com.
12:28 pm
you cycle regulars know what today is. >> julie, hey, guess what day it is. oh, come on. i know you can hear me. mike, mike, mike, mike. what day is it, mike? leslie, guess what today is. >> it's hump day. >> woo-woo! >> no, not that day. it's friday, september 6th, the first friday of the month. so it's jobs report friday. this one is particularly special because it is larry friedman's birthday there in chicago. you know who you are. as for the jobs, we're on a treadmill. jobs are being created, but not as many as we need. here are the numbers. created a net gain of 169,000
12:29 pm
jobs in august. there were big downward revisions for june and july employment numbers. the unemployment rate did drop to 7.3%, the lowest in nearly five years. but that is primarily because people are dropping out of the labor force, which is at its lowest rate since 1978. so we bring in our cycle economic tag team. peter, aisi'll start with you. we heard from defense chief chuck hagel that the syrian situation could hurt our economy. do you think he's right? >> i think it could. it distracts our attention from dealing with it. whether we spend money or roads or bullets, if you'll excuse me, it does stimulate the economy. if there's more spending, it's a positive. it's very different people that get the benefit. spend the money on roads, it's construction workers. if you spend the money on munitions, it's people that work in that industry. more money will be spent. the big issue, i think, is distraction. this pretty much will finish off the congress for this year. >> so true.
12:30 pm
well, jared, i talked about the fact people are still dropping out of the labor force. that's the reason for the decline in the unemployment rate this month. why are people still leaving? >> it's because job demand, employers' demand for workers is still historically quite weak given where we are in this economic expansion. if you look at the gdp numbers, the economy's actually been growing since the second half of 2009. but the vast majority of that growth has kind of flowed to a pretty narrow slice at the top of the income scale. so you have the banks posting record profits, but you have middle and low-wage workers actually losing ground. so while we've seen growth, it hasn't been strong enough growth to really nudge the unemployment rate down consistently. >> all right, peter -- >> also -- >> go ahead. >> look at the last numbers you put up. since january we've created over
12:31 pm
800,000 part-time jobs, or people that say they're working part time and only 35,000 people who say they've found full-time work on a net basis. that's a terrible ratio. if all you can do if you're a middle-aged woman who's lost her job is get a part-time job at williams sonoma and you have a husband earning money, or if you're a guy and your wife is doing well and you've lost your job and the alternative is a part-time job at starbucks, you sit down and say it's not worth it because of marginal taxes. i think a lot of that's going on with the older workers. younger workers are tired of working part time so they're going back to school. >> williams sonoma, you might get a linens discount. starbucks, you can't save that much on coffee. >> when dismal job numbers are reported, the first thing we want to do is put the blame on someone or something. they still blame the bush policies for where we are today.
12:32 pm
others say, look, enough time has passed. it is long since past the time we can attribute feeble job growth to the financial collapse in 20808. what we see now is the obama economy. peter, is it fair to suggest that what we're looking at is due to obama's policies? >> i think it's fair to say that it goes from two or even three presidents in a row not addressing fundamental problems in the economy. the huge trade deficit, not developing enough domestic oil. we should be to the point where we're oil independent. that's worth about 3 million jobs. it goes back through congresses that have been headed by republicans. there really is a lack of will to do some painful things for democrats and some painful things for republicans. on republican side, it's not oil. it's the banks. the banks are a real impediment to growth now. they should be busted up. >> so a couple of things.
12:33 pm
first of all, this is the second time you've said dismal jobs report. it is definitely not a good or a strong jobs report, but let's be clear. it's really not dismal either. we added 169,000 jobs. that's actually a little bit below where we've been in recent months when people were saying job reports were kind of okay. i would call it weak. i wouldn't call it dismal. secondly, the analysis that -- i agree more with peter. his analysis was very, very political. to pin this on president obama really doesn't make a lot of sense for the following reason. whether or not you agree with the policies he's proposed, and we could have a good argument about that, he has very conscientiously made numerous proposals that have created a lot more jobs than we're looking at today. take the public sector. we had a decent month for the public sector in august. over the longer term, the public sector, teachers, firefighters,
12:34 pm
first responders, has shed half a million jobs. that's very different than past recoveries. if that hadn't occurred and the president has proposed ways to do something about that, the unemployment rate would be lower. of course, he's been blocked every step along the way by a very dysfunctional congress. >> yeah, and jared, let me ask you about detroit. here we have one of the largest municipal bankruptcies in the history of this country. it seems to have just dropped out of the national and political consciousness. what do you make of that and what should be done? >> that's a great point. there's just so much going on. i think what should be done, and i think it's really important, they should go through chapter nine bankruptcy. i think that's actually an appropriate road for them to hoe. after that, they really need help to rebuild their infrastructure, to rebuild their parks and their roads, basically their city. but to make it a place where people and businesses want to
12:35 pm
come back to. that they can't do on their own. a bailout would be to take them through bankruptcy. i think they should go through bankruptcy, then we should give them a hand up. >> peter, let's move from the bad news of the jobs numbers and the great news for wall street. that is signals from the fed that they're going to, you know, not raise interest rates. it makes me wonder, does that mean that wall street is hooked on free money? >> oh, i think there is a problem there. it's not just the stock market. it's also the bond market. we've had all kinds of releveraging. a lot of weaker companies are borrowing recklessly while homeowners can't -- or people that want to buy homes can't get mortgage money unless they're perfect. on the corporate side, we have some pretty shady operations who are getting some pretty big loans or bonds sold to yield-hungry investors. when the fed finally does raise interest rate, we're going to have a lot of corporate
12:36 pm
bankruptcies and a lot of disappointed bond investors. like the case of detroit, you know, chapter nine, i think those bond investors and those companies deserve their disappointment. it will be painful, but i think it will be necessary. >> but jared, hasn't the fed basically had to act and act aggressively because congress, as you pointed out, has been completely dysfunctional? >> right. i've written numerous pieces asking, why is it that ben bernanke and janet yellen are the only policy makers in town who are actively trying to do something about the job market? in a way, as you can see from today's report, they can't do it all by themselves. monetary policy is very much pushing in the right direction, but fiscal policy is pushing in the wrong direction. if anything, one of the things that might come out of today's report is the fed will postpone some of the tightening measures, this taper they've been talking about. >> jared, before we let you go, what do you make of all the political wrangling over the fed? the whole point of this system
12:37 pm
for many decades has been to insulate the fed from political pressure. it used to be it would be dismiss the out of hand. it's none of your business, congress. that's the whole reason we, together, set up the fed. so what gives? >> oh, it's just a really unfortunate discussion. i mean, in no small part because these two candidates, summers and yellen, are not nearly as far apart as this frenzy we've been through in the last few weeks would lead you to believe. the white house played this very badly. there's no reason to be having this kind of fight right now. >> peter and jared, thanks to both of you. we'll see you next month, i'm sure. up next, for the love of the law, what happens when you're asked to defend the indefensible? today at the concert,
12:38 pm
12:39 pm
12:40 pm
your husband left his cell phone on. and you're not necessarily proud of that. but tonight, he made the pizza. ...with johnsonville italian sausage. the premium cuts of pork and perfect blend of herbs and spices gave every bite even more flavor. and everyone loved it. and you're definitely proud of that. johnsonville. served with pride since 1945. plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day women's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for women's health concerns as we age. with 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day women's 50+.
12:41 pm
welcome back. it's going to get real here for a minute. a little personal. it is no secret that my people have been heavily persecuted for years. we have suffered by the hands of public ridicule, oppression, and sometimes made to feel that we are not acceptable just as ourselves. there are jokes. there are personal digs. there are stereotypes. what i'm saying is it's not easy to be a lawyer. see what happened there? you thought maybe i was going one way, then it didn't. so lawyers, as you all know, specifically criminal defense attorneys, are constantly asked a variation of the same question. how can you defend these people? well, our next guests have a pretty thoughtful response and many thoughtful responses that explore the personal and often even emotional reasons defense lawyers take on really tough cases. they are quick to point out they know criminal defenders are often defending people who have done something wrong, and it's not necessarily exactly what's
12:42 pm
alleged. it's all right here inside "how can you represent those people?" it's a collection of essays edited by abby smith, a professor at georgetown law school. with her, angela davis, a professor of american law. >> hi. >> thanks for having us. >> absolutely. speaking about the sometimes real prejudice against defense attorneys and some of their clients, what was interesting, abby, right away is that you don't just talk about, well, this is how the system has to work, we need people on both sides, it will work out in the end. some of the conventional, institutional defenses we hear. what you write about, to some degree s the emotional draw that some attorneys feel, even for a very maligned client. >> i do. i try to at least. there are many reasons for doing this work, as there are lawyers doing it. but i try to get behind the conventional answers and talk about some of the personal motivations as well as the political motivations for doing the work. for me, it's a very good fit to
12:43 pm
represent another human being in need and in trouble, and i don't have any problems with people who are not perfect, who are flawed in some ways. i think that makes them more interesting, not hard for me to relate to them. the politics include the number of people we incarcerate in this country, the length of time we incarcerate them. i think that's a pretty prevalent motivation for lots of defenders these days. >> angela, abbe talks about the sort of personal aspect of this and relating to her clients. do you think -- i feel like a lot of us sort of look at criminals and look at these cases in the news and say, those people are nothing like us. we can't relate to them at all. we sort of strip them of humanity. if you're taking on these cases, if you're actually with these individuals who are criminals, who we label as criminals, does that change your relationship to them? do you see more of yourself in the folks that you're seeing on the news? >> absolutely. in fact, the essay that i
12:44 pm
contribute to the book is called "there but for the grace of god go i." it sort of summarizes how i felt about the work i did for 12 years at the d.c. public defenders service representing clients charged with everything from simple assault all the way to first-degree murder. almost all of my clients were poor, and they came from backgrounds that involved very little education. they didn't have good housing. they didn't have job opportunities. sometimes not even food to eat. i always said, and i still say, that if i'd grown up like that and under those circumstances, i may have found myself in those same circumstances. so i never judged my clients. i was always very, very proud to stand next to them and try to provide the best representation possible at all times. >> and abbe, you said that you are inspired by "to kill a mocking bird's" atticus finch, who represented the wrongly accused black man. but sometimes you aren't
12:45 pm
defending the innocent. there are times where -- you know, ariel castro has to be represented, dzhokhar tsarnaev. looking back, what case was the hardest for you to defend in terms of feeling guilty or emotionally conflicted? >> so here's the thing. i think by the time you actually represent a person who's accused of a crime, by the time you go to trial with such a case, you feel a connection. you need to feel a connection to your client. if you're about to try a case, you also need to believe in your case, at least. so i think by the time the rubber meets the road, you're there. there may be some challenges along the way. there are some cases -- criminal defense lawyers are human beings. we have the same feelings anybody else might have. there are some crimes that are more difficult than others. there's some conduct that, you know, frankly you want to turn away from. but i think there's a special sensibility criminal defense lawyers have to have. that's to put those feelings
12:46 pm
aside. not to suppress them entirely, but to put them aside and to focus on the client and the client's case. >> is there a case that sticks out to the you, though, specifically? >> i say in my essay, and you know, i guess i'm willing to admit that -- to put it in its most pif if i form, probably rapists and racists are are the hardest kind of cases for me, especially the sort of case that's kind of, you know, part of the ariel castro kind of category of cases. rape, captivity, abduction cases, you know, i think are horrific. representing people accused of hate crimes, not so easy for me. that's not why i went into this work. but when you peel away the charges and you sit with another human being, you often find that it's much more complicated than initially things appear to be. >> angela, a little while after the o.j. verdict, i had breakfast here in new york with
12:47 pm
johnny cochran, famously on his defense team. we talked about the unspoken ethics rule that you don't throw your client under the bus. so i wonder if you've ever had personal experience with someone who has broken that unspoken rule. you're both defending the same person, but that person has said something to the press or did something in court that made it clear they were throwing the client under the bus. >> well, fortunately, i've never had to -- i was at the d.c. public defender service, where we were taught to zealously advocate for our clients at all times. no one i know who worked there would ever do anything like that. i mean, our job is to go in there and represent our client zealously. i was always very, very proud to do that. with regard to the issue of guilty or innocence, i mean, i never had a case that i felt bad about handling it. i think that, you know, our clients, some of them certainly were guilty, maybe most of them, but i guarantee you that with all of them, the prosecutors
12:48 pm
usually overcharge. so they're never guilty of everything they're charged with. i didn't focus on that issue. i focus on the client. we have an adversarial system where we got a prosecutor, a defense attorney, a judge, and a jury, if it's a jury case. i wasn't there to judge my clients. i never wanted to judge them. that was never my role, and i was always proud to stand between them and the government because i think unless and until you're charged with a crime or you have a family member charged with a crime, you really don't understand the importance of having a strong and zealous defense attorney. i was very proud to play that role. >> yeah, angela -- >> if i can say -- >> go ahead, please. >> certainly there are court appointed lawyers who throw their clients under the bus. i, too, am a proud product of a very good public defender office, the philadelphia defender association. i practiced in a number of jurisdictio jurisdictions. i've seen, unfortunately -- it's not just a problem in the deep south, that court appointed lawyers, either because of lack of resources or a lack of commitment, will sometimes cozy up too much to the judge or the
12:49 pm
prosecutor and not keep their client at the center where the client should be. that is a problem. it's a problem even as we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of gideon against wainwright. you still see a different quality of justice for the poor. >> angela, how much of it has to do with that overcharging you mentioned? this is not theory about what criminals should get. this is reality where we live in a country with a very harsh and unequal justice system. >> that's the very point, is that there's so much evidence that the poor and the -- poor people and people of color, i should say, are not treated as fairly as their similarly situated white or wealthy counterparts. prosecutors hold all the cards. many of them, unfortunately, abuse the power they have and overcharge. that's why it's so very important we have a very strong
12:50 pm
defense. i was proud to play that role. >> excellent. abbe and angela, thank you for spending time with us. good luck with this the book. >> important stories in there. next up, you're going to want to stay around for this. we have jonathan "the cape isn't capehart and he has three minutes to speak his mind to you. is really made of cheese? [ crisp crunches ] whoo-hoo-hoo! guess it was. [ male announcer ] pringles, bursting with more flavor. where would you go?iving away a trip every day. guess it was. woman: 'greece.' woman 2: 'i want to go to bora bora.' man: 'i'd always like to go to china.' anncr: download the expedia app and your next trip could be on us. expedia, find yours.
12:51 pm
man: sometimes it's like we're still in college. but with a mortgage.
12:52 pm
and the furniture's a lot nicer. and suddenly, the most important person in my life is someone i haven't even met yet. who matters most to you says the most about you. at massmutual we're owned by our policyowners, and they matter most to us. as you plan your next step, we'll help you get there. humans. we are beautifully imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. that's why liberty mutual insurance has your back, offering exclusive products like optional better car replacement, where if your car is totaled, we give you the money to buy one a model year newer. call... and ask an insurance expert about all our benefits today, like our 24/7 support and service, because at liberty mutual insurance,
12:53 pm
we believe our customers do their best out there in the world, so we do everything we can to be there for them when they need us. plus, you could save hundreds when you switch, up to $423. call... today. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? new york city council speaker christine quinn was supposed to be the next democratic nominee to be mayor of the big apple. but she's been tripped up on the road to inevitability. once the front-runner in all the
12:54 pm
polls, quinn has seen her support plummet. now, some of the reasons for this are big as city council speaker quinn was mayor bloomberg's partner for the last seven years. for voters is eager for a break, electing quinn is tantamount to eight fourth term for the billionaire mayor. i have no doubt there is lingering doubt over rolling back term limits that allowed bloomberg to run for a third term. the speakership is no place to launch a mayor is campaign. her two immediate predecessors is tried it and failed. is there something for insidious at work? for some supporters there is a strong whiff of as ojmisogyny. >> i don't ask you where you accepted your kids to school. don't bother me where i send mine. >> we are building these whether you consent or not.
12:55 pm
now, i'm not -- >> obviously, that was new jersey governor chris christie who is routinely applauded for his i'll burn this mother down brashness. meanwhile, quinn's similar personality earned her their breathless characterization in the "new york times" back in major. "but in private, friends and colleagues say another ms. quinn can emerge, controlling, tempermental and surprisingly volatile with a habit of hair trigger eruptions of unchecked face-to-face wrath." it goes on to say "she is sensitive to slights. show me a politician who isn't and i'll show you a unicorn. >> i have always said i have a big personality. i'm a pushy broad and i've said i want to get things done. sometimes to get things done, you have to be aggressive. >> it's this double standard, the gruff guy is heralded as a loveable leader while the take
12:56 pm
no prisoners woman is loathed as an unlikable bitch. that has some angry about her predicament leading up to the primary. there are parallels to quinn and what happened to hillary clinton in the 2008 primaries. back then clinton was the inevitable candidate who bent went down to defeat and many leveled charges of sexism at the press and electorate. i won't totally sexism was a factor till a friend explained like this "the girls can do the work. it's fine to be a speaker or a senator. but when it comes time to decide who drives the car, the likability issues come up." might friend makes a very good point when it comes 0 quinn. after 12 years of bloomberg and eight years of giuliani before that, new yorkers have floompb likability is not necessarily a job requirement. okay. that does it for "the cycle." martin bashir is up next. have a great weekend. 20?
12:57 pm
new purina one true instinct has 30. active dogs crave nutrient-dense food. so we made purina one true instinct. learn more at purinaone.com ♪ now you can give yourself a kick in the rear! v8 v-fusion plus energy. natural energy from green tea plus fruits and veggies. need a little kick? ooh! could've had a v8. in the juice aisle. ♪ we go, go, we don't have to go solo ♪ ♪ fire, fire, you can take me higher ♪ ♪ take me to the mountains, start a revolution ♪ ♪ hold my hand, we can make, we can make a contribution ♪ ♪ brand-new season, keep it in motion ♪ ♪ 'cause the rhyme is the reason ♪ ♪ break through, man, it doesn't matter who you're talking to ♪ [ male announcer ] completely redesigned for whatever you love to do. the all-new nissan versa note. your door to more. ♪
12:58 pm
humans. we are beautifully imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. that's why liberty mutual insurance has your back, offering exclusive products like optional better car replacement, where if your car is totaled, we give you the money to buy one a model year newer. call... and ask an insurance expert about all our benefits today, like our 24/7 support and service, because at liberty mutual insurance, we believe our customers do their best out there in the world, so we do everything we can to be there for them when they need us. plus, you could save hundreds when you switch, up to $423. call... today. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy?
12:59 pm
with an ultra-thin coating and fast absorbing advil ion core™ technology, it stops pain before it gets worse. nothing works faster. new fast acting advil. look for it in the white box. new fast acting advil.
1:00 pm
nascar is ab.out excitement but tracking all the action and hearing everything from our marketing partners, the media and millions of fans on social media can be a challenge. that's why we partnered with hp to build the new nascar fan and media engagement center. hp's technology helps us turn millions of tweets, posts and stories into real-time business insights that help nascar win with our fans. good afternoon. it's friday, september 6th. and he's made his pitch abroad and now the president returns home to sell his serious strategy to the nation. >> brazen use of chemical weapons isn't just a syrian tragedy. it's a threat to global peace and security. >> 1400
left
right